Shuler Elementary Technology teacher Shannon Fleming was about to surprise her students with a fun field trip. This 1st-grade class has been studying communities, so she decided to supplement the curriculum by taking them to different communities around the globe. The best part? They don’t have to leave Shuler to experience them!

Fleming applied for and received the largest classroom grant from the Waukee Community Schools Foundation to date: $8,874.99 for Google Expeditions kits. The kits bring lessons to life with the help of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR.) Every student gets a pair of goggles that transports them from the classroom to more than 1,000 different tours.

Mrs. Fleming explained some safety rules first, then let students go to their work stations to pick up the goggles. She controls what they see with an app on her iPad. Students’ reactions were immediate the moment she started the tour. “That’s so cool!” “Whoa, are you seeing this?” “This is amazing!”

Mrs. Fleming started the tour in Paris, France, pointing out the Eiffel Tower, various buildings, and waterways. She drew arrows on her iPad to direct students’ attention to specific aspects of the community: skyscrapers, public transportation, and green spaces. Mrs. Fleming also took students to Iceland, Brazil, and China to observe cultural differences in both urban and rural communities. She even took them back in time to Mesopotamia, the historical region of western Asia.

The next class to experience the Google Expedition kits was a group of 2nd-graders. They have been studying government, so Mrs. Fleming took them on a tour of the White House. Students were amazed by the grand chandeliers, portraits on the walls, and the fact that Abraham Lincoln once sat on that particular couch!

The goggles were a big hit with students, and even with the principal, Joel Fey, who stopped in to check it out! One student declared at the end of class, “I know what’s going on my Christmas list this year!”

The Foundation is thrilled to be able to provide this innovative and awesome learning tool to every single elementary student in the Waukee school district. The Google Expedition kits will circulate to all elementary buildings over the course of the school year, so every student will get to experience a virtual field trip.

Thank you to our donors and sponsors for providing this valuable learning experience to every Waukee elementary student!

See the Google Expedition kits in action here: https://youtu.be/pToFLgG_9Ho